Marshall thrust into leadership role

Columbus stalwart will take on new, unfamiliar responsibility

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio – Some are born leaders. Chad Marshall might have been born too late to be one.

The Crew’s standout central defender will be entering his eighth MLS season despite being just 26 years old, but for the first time, he will be asked to be front and center in the locker room.

It’s a role Marshall admits he is not comfortable with but one he has to accept after the offseason departures of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk and other more experienced players.

“Chad will be a leader whether he wants to or not,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “He’s a national team player. He’s a veteran and guys will look up to him.”

Marshall understands that, especially since the release of Duncan Oughton means he has been with the club longer than any player.

“It’s been stressed by the coaching staff that someone needs to step up,” Marshall said. “I guess being one of the longest-tenured players here, that’s one of my responsibilities.”

He didn’t need to be a leader in his two seasons at Stanford University when he deferred to the upperclassmen.As a 19-year-old first-round draft pick in 2004, he yielded to his elders on the Crew and has done so ever since, for the most part.

“It’s going to be a new role for me at any point in my career,” he said. “When I was in college, I always had the older guys. I left early and, coming here, there were always older guys.

“Being around them and seeing what they did over the years, I’ll definitely try to get that in my game,” he added. “I usually try to lead by example on the field, but if I need to be more vocal, I’ll try and do that.”

Fortunately for him and the Crew, there is still a core group that has been together for three or more years, one that helped win the MLS Cup in 2008.

“The guys who have been here and won a championship need to step up,” midfielder/defender Danny O'Rourke said.

He, William Hesmer, Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers and others will lead by committee.

“We have to take the things we learned from the great leaders we had on this team in Frankie, Duncan and Guillermo and continue to pass them on and carry the torch of leadership,” Hesmer said.

Marshall is looking forward to the challenge as well as being healthy.

The MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and ’09 was hampered last season by right knee pain and had arthroscopic surgery in the offseason.

“It was really bothering me,” he said. “I was getting a shot before every game just to play. I’ve had it in the past. You deal with it and take the medicine you need to and take care of it in the offseason. It feels good now.”